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Zachary the Rhetor


Sixth-century metropolitan of Mytilene, Church historian; b. Maiuma, Palestine, c. 465; d. Constantinople, after 536. Educated in the famous school of Gaza, Zachary studied philosophy at Alexandria (485487) and law at Beirut (487491); he persuaded severus of antioch to be baptized and to embrace a strictly ascetical life. In 492 Zachary migrated to Constantinople, practiced law, took part in the cultural life of the court, and was selected as metropolitan of Mytilene on the island of Lesbos. He participated in the Synod of Constantinople in 536 under mennas, which condemned the deposed patriarch anthimus, Severus of Antioch, peter of apamea, and the Monk Zoanas. Despite his original acceptance of the henoticon, Zachary followed the court theology and rallied to the Catholic position.

His Ecclesiastical History, written in Greek, was a memoir composed for an imperial administrator, Eupraxius; it contains accurate information on events in Egypt and Palestine from 450 to 491. Evagrius used it in books 2 and 3 of his history, and it was embodied in a 12volume work in Syriac probably compiled by a monk of Amida in Armenia. Zachary's Life of Severus of Antioch is an apologetic biography covering his early friend's career to 512 and exonerating him of charges of paganism and idolatry. It is important for details of daily life, scholarship, and asceticism in sixthcentury Alexandria and Beirut. This is true also of his Life of the Monk Isaac, a Palestinian ascetic (d. 488). Fragments of a Life of Peter the Iberian have been preserved in Syriac, but only the name of his Life of Theodore, Bishop of Antinoë is known. His Disputatio de mundi officio is a dialogue with the Alexandrian Sophist Ammonius defending the immortality of the soul and creation of the world in time. Fragments of a Disputatio contra Manichaeos are preserved.

Bibliography: zachary the rhetor, Vie de Séveère, ed. and tr. m. a. kugener (Patrologia orientalis 2.1; 1907); The Syriac Chronicle, tr. f. j. hamilton and e. w. brooks (London 1899). g. bardy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant et al., 15 v. (Paris 190350; Tables générales 1951) 15.2:367680. b. altaner, Patrology, tr. h. graef from 5th Ger. ed. (New York 1950) 204. m. a. kugener, "Observations sur la vie de l'ascète Isaïe par Zacharie le Scolastique," Byzantinische Zeitschrift 9 (1900) 464470; "La Compilation de PseudoZacharie le Rhéteur," Revue d l'Orient chrétien 5 (1900) 201214, 461480. e. w. brooks, ed. and tr., Vitae virorum apud monophysitas celeberrimorum (Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium 3.25; 1907). severus of antioch, Les Homiliae cathedrales, ed. and tr. m. briÈre (Patrologia orientalis, 25.1; 1943). e. honigmann, Patristic Studies (Studi e Testi 173; 1953) 194204.

[f. x. murphy]

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